Out of print for more than 30 years, now available for the first time as
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This is the only book that gives a true picture of the character of John
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more than 40 hours of interviews with Coach Wooden, learn about the man behind the coach.
The players tell their their stories in their own words. This is the book
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Click the book to read the first chapter and for
Casino Jack (1/10)
by Tony Medley
Run Time 108 minutes
Not for children.
Hard on the heals of Alex Gibney’s
propaganda film Casino Jack and the United States of Money, comes
this fictional portrayal of the notorious Jack Abramoff (Kevin Spacey),
who was a powerful influence peddler during the Bush Administration. At
least Gibney used archival films and based everything on what actually
occurred, even if he did present the story entirely from his point of
Both pretty much ignore the fact
that Abramoff was peddling influence with both Republicans and Democrats
to concentrate on the corruption of Abramoff and his partner, Michael
Scanlon (Barry Pepper) with Republicans, specifically about how they
scammed an Indian tribe. While the film accuses only Republicans of
being tarnished by Abramoff, the facts are that of the approximately $85
million in tribal money entrusted to Abramoff, his employers, or his
related organizations, over $4.4 million was directed to at least 250
members of Congress. Democrats received approximately 1/3 of the funds,
including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Byron
Contrasted with Gibney’s use of
archival films and interviews with people involved, in this, to the
contrary, director George Hickenlooper, who passed away two days before
my screening, creates everything out of whole cloth, helped in large
part by a poorly written screenplay by Norman Snider. The dialogue and
situations are basically absurd.
While Spacey gives an adequate
performance, there are at least three performances that stand out. Kelly
Preston gives a fine performance as Pam Abramoff, Jack’s long suffering
wife. Maury Chaykin (who passed away in July) comes through as a
believable mobster, Big Tony, and Jon Lovitz is very good as a
mob-connected pal of Jack’s, Adam Kidan.
Unfortunately, more than
counter-balancing these performances is Barry Pepper as Jack’s partner,
Michael Scanlon. His performance is so out of touch with reality that it
exacerbates the amateurish direction and script that lacks credibility.
Hickenlooper was apparently trying to be comedic because before the
screening, a co-producer spoke to us and told us to enjoy the movie
because it was basically a comedy. If so, I didn’t see much at which to
laugh with. At, maybe.
Hickenlooper was not without
talent. He directed The Man From Elysian Fields, which I thought
one of the best films of 2002, although he followed that up with the
disappointing Factory Girl, about Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick.
Hickenlooper missed a big chance
to draw a dichotomy between how leniently crooks like Abramoff and
Scanlon are treated and the way common criminals are treated. If you use
a gun to hold up a bank and take, say, $10,000, you can count on 20
years in jail at a maximum security prison. Abramoff and Scanlon
apparently robbed the Indian tribe of many millions of dollars but
Abramoff was sentenced to only 6 years in a minimum security prison
and got paroled after serving 3 ˝ years.
In short, “amateurish” is the word
that kept wafting through my mind throughout the film.
November 1, 2010